Thursday, September 20, 2012

Douglas Ski Bowl Cabin

The Ski House of the Day is the Douglas Ski Bowl Cabin, on Douglas Island, in Juneau, Alaska. The original cabin is one for the ski-history it actually doesn't exist anymore, but here's a look back at it and at the Douglas Ski Bowl:

The 16 x 18 ft. log cabin was built in 1936 through the combined effort of the Civilian Conservation Corps, Juneau Ski Club and the US Forest Service.  This was a time when skiers hiked up the mountain to ski down the Douglas Ski Bowl...and found the cabin to be a welcome refuge from the Alaskan elements. Later, mid-century skiers accessed the area via a ride on "Oola - the Juneau Ski Train" a Tuckerman Snow Cat that pulled a sled carrying 40-50 skiers up to the bowl!  Eventually, Eaglecrest Ski Area was developed here through a  community effort, after federal highway $ funding of a road.  The ski area has been repeatedly saved by community efforts, and today, Eaglecrest is owned and operated by the borough of Juneau as a public ski area (photo by David McMaster):

According to the Alaska Lost Ski Area Project, the Douglas Ski Bowl Cabin was eventually renamed the Dan Moller Cabin (Moller was the forest service foreman in charge of the CCC construction of the cabin, and a charter member of the Juneau Ski Club).  The cabin was restored in the mid-1980's; and according to Juneau Empire in 2009, the "cabin is one of Juneau's best loved and most used backcountry shelters."

The deteriorating original cabin was torn down in 2010, and a new one (bigger, brighter, and stronger to withstand the snow-load) was built in its place.  The US Forest Service says it's available for rent but they caution to be advised it's open to the public as a warming shelter during the day (this information could be out of date as it appears to describe the original cabin rather than the replacement).

Legend has it that the original Douglas Ski Bowl Cabin saw its share of skiers' parties back in the day...and based on this sight along the trail leading up to the new cabin, the tradition lives least with someone's birthday party:

The Douglas Ski Bowl Cabin is a great little piece of skiing history to look back on while pondering those trailblazing skiers of the early / mid-century Alaska...and while celebrating a birthday!

Thursday, September 13, 2012

Chocolate Moose Cabin

Today is International Chocolate here's a sweet ski house for this sweet day.....the Ski House of the Day is the Chocolate Moose Cabin, in Big Bear Lake, California.  The Chocolate Moose Cabin, as you can see, gets a pretty sweet coating of snow:

The cabin has a cozy living room with wood paneled walls, a warming fireplace...and lots of interesting the moose on the mantle, moose pillows, and the pieces that I absolutely love -- those wall lamps made of vintage wooden skis flanking the fireplace - fabulous for a ski cabin!

There are three bedrooms, including this really cute one which has a gorgeous log bed with moose headboard, moose blanket, decorative  snowshoe, and other great log furnishings:

How about some chocolate mousse in the Chocolate Moose kitchen on Chocolate Day?

(By the way...the east coast has its own version of a chocolate moose).

And while you're dreaming of enjoying that sweet chocolate, check out the view - of Bear Mountain's Geronimo ski run:

The trails are just an easy walk through the woods...just enough time to finish up that chocolate before you hit the trails!
Chocolate Moose or chocolate mousse...both sound pretty sweet to me.  
Happy Chocolate Day!

Tuesday, September 11, 2012

FDNY Ski House

Hunter Mountain is only two hours north of New York City, and has long been a popular destination for firefighters from the FDNY to get out on the slopes.  Exactly one year ago (on the 10th anniversary of the attack of 9-11) Hunter Mountain dedicated a memorial to the victims of 9-11, three hundred and forty three (343) of whom were FDNY.  The memorial in Hunter is made of steel that was pulled from the World Trade Center. As solemn as that memorial is, there is also healing at Hunter.  That healing can be seen in a very unusual annual event at Hunter Mountain:  the Firefighters Ski which teams of five firefighters dressed in their full gear attempt to race down a slalom course while carrying a 50-ft fire-hose!  Firefighters from all over the East coast compete in the event.  A really unusual event...and fun to watch.  But more than just fun;  for a New Yorker, an American, indeed for a human being, it's inspiring to watch because on the first day of the race it's FDNY only.  In 2002, (the first race after the tragic events of 9-11) race director and retired FDNY Capt. Joe Jove remarked as he watched the FDNY firefighters silently gaze out at the view, "hopefully this will be the start of the recovery" (according to Skinet).

On the sad anniversary of 9-11, the ski house of the day is one that exists in the hearts and minds of the New York City is the old ski house on Main Street that was occupied by FDNY firefighters while skiing at Hunter Mountain back before the race was part of a recovery...when the firefighters ski race was just a fun idea.  According to Skinet, it was back in 1973 that the Firefighters Ski Race got its start as "a friendly grudge match between two FDNY ski houses."

To honor the memory of those firefighters and all others who were lost on this date 11 years ago, the Ski House of the Day is the 1973-era FDNY ski house on Main Street.

May we never forget, and may the recovery continue.

Friday, September 7, 2012

Moonbah Hut

The ski season is still in full swing "down under", in fact, Perisher reports a new 20 cm today, and has recently announced that they are extending their season to remain open until early October.  And here's a most unique ski house...not too far from there.  The Ski House of the Day is the rustic, quaint and captivating Moonbah Hut:

The hut has been described as "not so much a hut as an experience,"  and it looks like a beautiful experience indeed.  The Moonbah Hut is located 15 minutes from Jindabyne, on property that borders the Kosciuszko National Park (in which the area's ski fields are located) and is right on the Moonbah River, a pristine trout stream.
On the property wildlife abounds...and includes wombats, a resident platypus, emu, kangaroo, cockatoos, and wild brumbies:

The setting looks totally serene and seems like it's a perfect place for isolation as well as inspiration:

The stone and slab hut (built in 1822) looks absolutely magical inside...

In addition to the warm, inviting stone fireplace, there's also a Canberra wood-stove for heat (and creative cooking) plus a hotplate and a small fridge to round out the "kitchen facilities."

The hut's cozy sleeping area is nestled along a rustic natural stone wall adorned with antique wooden snow-shoes and  poles...simply beautiful!

The hut also has an unexpected luxury...a heated floor!  Although it looks like this might be the kind of place you'd expect to have to use an out-house, there is an "inside" bathroom.

If you decide that you actually want to leave this cozy place to get out into the snow and ski, you may have a bit of a drive...

...but what an inspiring place to return to as the stars come out!

Cheers to the extended ski season, and to the captivating Moonbah Hut!

Wednesday, September 5, 2012

Slice of Perfection

Since today is National Cheese Pizza Day,  I think the perfect feature in a ski house would be, you guessed it, a Pizza Oven.  And here's a rental ski house that, amazingly, has just that!

This lovely, spacious, mountain chalet is just a few miles from great skiing at Jay Peak, Vermont:

I love the living room with its vaulted clear-wood ceiling, stone fireplace (with cozy wood-stove) and lots of windows...

...and I like the beautiful master bedroom...which has french doors leading out onto its own deck:

 The interior of the chalet looks very bright and inviting:

...and there's even a really nice game room and bar:

But here's the thing that makes this chalet perfect for National Pizza Day (no matter when you want to celebrate it)...the very unique outdoor wood-fired Pizza Oven in the snow!  How perfect is this?

I love it!  What great fun for apres-ski this must be!   Extra cheese, anyone?   (I can almost smell that pizza from here).  This might be cheesy, but I think this ski house is a slice of perfection!

Monday, September 3, 2012

Mt Abrams Cabin

If you aren't already familiar with Mt Abram, Maine...maybe you should be, because not only is it "Maine's authentic skiing and riding experience" but something special is happening there.  Mountain Rider's Alliance, an organization devoted to keeping skiing/riding an authentic experience, has recently announced its partnership with this ski area to make Mt Abram its first "mountain playground".  There's a lot of buzz with this new partnership also being featured recently such as on Powder Mag,  The Ski Channel, and  more.  And, so well said by The Ski Diva, Mountain Rider's Alliance is taking us "back to the future" of ski areas.

As explained to me by Jamie Schectman, Co-Founder of Mountain Rider's Alliance (whom I initially encountered during my research on a Patagonian ski house that he manages, which itself was a model of authenticity),  "Our mission is to bring skiing back to its roots by creating affordable, sustainable ski areas around the globe."   Since Mt Abrams was already focused on sustainability (as evidenced by numerous green initiatives such as their low-energy snow-making system, and their having won the National Ski Area Association's 2012 Golden Eagle Awards for Environmental Excellence), this partnership is perfectly logical.  The goal for Mountain Rider's Alliance is to keep the primary focus on the skiing / riding experience itself rather than the luxury resort lifestyle experience common to so many ski areas.  While that luxury lifestyle has its time and place, the authentic skiing experience is always right.  Mountain Rider's Alliance is striving to be responsible stewards of the environment (both the global and the local) as opposed to falling into that deep crevasse of corporate greed where "green" has an entirely different meaning.  And so it seems that, starting with Mt Abram, the Mountain Riders Alliance "brand" will signify authenticity, sustainability and integrity in a ski area.

Mt Abram is indeed a refreshingly authentic Maine skiing / riding experience without any pretentious attitude...and here's a ski house with that same unpretentious, yet playful and welcoming log house where skiers/riders can walk out the door and cross the street to get on the lift up into this newly branded  "mountain playground"!  The Ski House of the Day is this cute cabin right across the street from Mt Abram:

Like Mt Abram, this cabin is affordable and unpretentious.  It's simply an authentic ski house with 2 bedrooms, and 1 bathroom.  The charming, rustic living room looks like a comfortable spot to relax after a day on the mountain...and that all wood interior has the feel of a walk (or "ride") in the Maine woods...

The kitchen seems beautifully up-to-date and complete...perfect for a skiers breakfast perhaps of locally-grown Maine blueberry pancakes....

(And speaking of food...if you have lunch at Mt Abram, be assured that the grease produced from your burger will end up as renewable fuel via Mt Abram's efforts and Maine Standard Biofuels!).

The cozy built-in kitchen table area looks perfect for sharing the adventure stories of the day with family / friends over a mug of cocoa or over a hearty dinner of pasta or maybe even Maine lobster:

There's one bedroom on the main level, and an attractive spiral stairway leads upstairs... a compact loft area with a small tv and (ski?) games..... 

...and also upstairs, a second bedroom.  Most skiers/riders would recognize this as an authentic, real-life skiers/riders bunk-room area where it's more about everyone getting some comfortable, restful sleep after a day on the mountain, than it is about having a lot of luxurious but unnecessary space:

As a skier, it's nice to know that Mt Abram's future looks like it will continue to be green...the right kinds of green...and nice to know there are ski houses like this cute, authentic ski cabin, where, like the Mountain Rider's Alliance brand of mountain playgrounds, the experience is more about the skiing than the size of the house.

Saturday, September 1, 2012

Keeping it Real

For the Ski House of the Day here's a quaint and attractive A-frame chalet....

...which looks like a wonderful ski house...but surprisingly, isn't really a ski house at all.  It is, however, located in the same town as a revolutionary new ski hill (whose slopes have been open for skiing all summer and) which is offering free access to the slopes on Community Day, today!

The ski hill is Snowflex, and the town is Lynchburg, Virginia.  Huh?  Skiing in the hot, sultry southwestern Virginia summer?  Here's the thing...Snowflex isn't really snow at's an innovative new material (developed by Briton Engineering) that allows skiers and riders to feel just like they are carving turns on real snow.  I think it's a really interesting innovation...(and if we don't keep an eye on climate change we just might be seeing a lot more of it pretty soon)...but it is not snow.  Most of the skiers I know analyze the constantly changing snow conditions daily or even hourly, to multiple degrees of specificity...from solid ice to deep powder, we like to know what we're heading out into.  At Snowflex the conditions are totally predictable and consistent:  it's white, wet and slippery;  but it isn't the real thing.

Snowflex, the first of its kind in the US, is located in on the campus of Liberty University...which is one of the most conservative, Christian/evangelical institutions in the country  and was founded by Jerry Falwell (conservative Christian political activist and the organizer of the "Moral Majority"...who dismissed global warming as a myth).   Maybe the surface isn't real, but the skiing appears to be real on Snowflex;  and yes, they're skiing in August believe it or not.  The university website says that among Snowflex's features is its "Authenticity:  (it) creates the thrill of real snow."  Okay, so it looks like real snow, and according to Liberty it  "thrills" like real snow...but it is not real snow.

Not really a ski house...not really snow...what else isn't really what it appears to be?  Is it real skiing if it isn't real snow? Where does reality leave off and illusion begin? Can we tell the difference?

Liberty seems an unlikely place for a progressive, groundbreaking ski hill with an innovative new skiing surface like Snowflex.  But upon further reflection (if you agree with Bill Maher's assessment -- regardless of his crude off-topic conclusion), maybe it's the perfect place for something that looks like snow, and "thrills" like snow, but isn't really snow at all.

Who knows...if we allow global warming to continue, Snowflex might be the only kind of snow we'll have left.  That would be some real irony.

As for the chalet...even though it isn't really a ski sure does look like one - right down to its gorgeous stone fireplace in the great room.  This really cute house appears to be on the market right now...and year-round "skiing" at Snowflex is right across town.

I probably won't be skiing Snowflex anytime soon (let's just say I prefer to keep it real).  But if I do, hopefully I'll be able to distinguish the real from the artificial, the actual from the illusion, fact from fiction.   Snowflex is pretty cool...just not real snow.